Sunday, May 5, 2013

Closing Your Eyes Doesn't Make You Invisible and Pretending To Not See Color Doesn't Make You Colorblind


There’s been some reaction to a certain black celebrity who’s dating a white guy and was quoted as saying that she’d want any children from this union to be “colorblind.”

Now, I’ve mentioned in at least three posts that the notion of a “colorblind” society doesn’t exactly excite me. I don’t care to be “whitewashed” merely for someone else’s comfort. And when I think of the term “colorblind” that’s what I think of.

Many other black folks feel the same way, and they’ve voiced their disapproval of the celebrity’s statement. I added my two cents to the debate, saying that a better goal is treating people of all ethnicities respectfully, rather than “looking past” an individual’s race.

But later, as I was thinking about my position, I realized that it doesn’t go far enough. It’s not challenging enough. It’s sort of like all the talk of “tolerance” a few years back, when diversity training was all the rage. Fast forward a few years, and people are starting to realize that hey, they don’t want to be merely tolerated.  Yeah, being tolerated is better than being the object of out-and-out aggressive nastiness, but it’s no substitute for … love.

I don’t mean romantic love, and I’m not talking about some hokey Kumbaya love. I’m talking about an honest-to-God, genuine love for humanity, in all its ethnic variances. Eyes wide open.

You’re different from me, and I’m different from you. I can see your differences, and I know that because the world sees our differences, our races have influenced who we are. And it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Now, tell me something about you, and I’ll tell you something about me.

It’s just that simple.

I don’t have to pretend to not see you to like you. It’s not rude or gauche or unseemly to acknowledge racial differences. It’s pragmatic. We’re a color-obsessed society. We always have been and we probably always will be. 

(And by the way, if you’re white, please do not take this opportunity to make some hopelessly na├»ve [at best] or disingenuous [at worst] statement like “I never see color.” Instead, resolve today to cut the crap. Yes, you do see color. We know you do. And it’s fine. Really.)

But what’s not fine is someone saying he doesn’t see color while behaving very much as though he does. And it’s this dissonance that makes some black people crazy whenever the topic of  “colorblindness” is broached.

So maybe we can try and eliminate this word from our collective vocabulary? Perhaps? A girl can dream after all. Instead, can we talk about seeing and believing that all ethnicities are valued members of the human race?

Colorblind my foot.

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